"LIKE A BRIAN DE PALMA'S GREATEST HITS OF OBSESSIONS, FIXATIONS & FETISHES"
Are Snakes Necessary? hits the streets on March 17th, but some early reactions to the novel, co-written by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman, are beginning to show up online. "Read Are Snakes Necessary? in one night and it really is like a Brian De Palma's greatest hits of obsessions, fixations and fetishes," author Jedidiah Ayres wrote in a Twitter post yesterday. "Loved it," he continued, adding, "All I want to do now is watch Femme Fatale again."
Novelist Scott Adlerberg then responded, "Enjoying it so far. It’s definitely a feast for De Palma fans."
Writer Nick Kolakowski chimed in with a link to his review at Mystery Tribune, tweeting, "It really does win every single square of De Palma bingo, but I had some... issues with it."
To which Ayres replied, "It's... slight? But so pleasingly symmetrical."
Adlerberg then added, "It’s a little slight, I guess. And the writing style is a bit bare bones and screenplay like, but does that matter really? I like how tongue and cheek it is."
Here's an excerpt from Kolakowski's review at Mystery Tribune:
On the cover of “Are Snakes Necessary?”, the thriller authored by legendary director Brian De Palma (co-written with Susan Lehman), there’s a blurb that many a noir writer would commit literal murder for: Martin Scorsese announcing that this book is “like having a new Brian De Palma picture.”
As a blurb, it’s dead-on, and therein lies the rub: If you’re a fan of De Palma’s cinematic work, this book may very well scratch that itch for another thriller from the maestro, albeit in a totally different format. If you’re one of those folks who dislikes the director’s hothouse Hitchcock homages, then you’re no doubt going to roll your eyes as the book trots out pretty much every single De Palma trope of the past 45 years.
Psychosexual shenanigans? Check. Political malfeasance? Check. Unscrupulous people doing their level best to one-up each other? Check. Knife deaths? Check.
Hitchcock-style tumble from a really tall, internationally famous landmark? Oh yeah, big check. Not to spoil too much, but a climactic incident “happens in that funny slow-motion way that events unfold in the heat of certain moments,” to quote the narration directly.
It’s like De Palma is attempting to do in print what he’s done so notably in some of his most famous films (the train-station shootout in “The Untouchables,” the cross-action finale of “Raising Cain”); the paragraphs become individual shots, the action so clear you could storyboard it.
Indeed, if there’s one minor quibble to make with the book, it’s the pacing. Within chapters, the narrative will suddenly jump to that night, or even a few weeks later; it would work in a movie, where a single cut is all you need to seamlessly suggest that time has elapsed, but it’s jarring in prose.
For those who grew up watching, re-watching, and generally enjoying De Palma’s films, perhaps the biggest surprise here is the tone. His movies’ characters might be psychologically twisted wrecks, but De Palma always approached pacing, framing, and the other elements of filmmaking with a surgeon’s eye, expertly dialing in his effects. Yet the book’s tone is casual—“folksy” is probably the wrong word to use, but that term hints at its relaxed nature.